MORGANTOWN — The deadline to file as a candidate for Morgantown’s municipal election was Feb. 13.
The deadline to withdraw your candidacy for Morgantown’s municipal election was Jan. 31.
Read that again.
According to the city’s election law, you would need to have withdrawn as a candidate 13 days before you would even need to officially confirm you’re running.
In other words, once your name is on the ballot, it’s likely not coming off.
The Dominion Post reached out to City Clerk Christine Wade back in February to ask why the withdrawal date is so early in the process.
She explained it’s the result of the city charter setting dates for candidate filing, but not setting dates for withdrawal, meaning it falls to state code.
“Our charter sets the filing period, and our charter states that any candidate wishing to withdraw shall notify the City Clerk in writing of the same in accordance with the requirements of general statutory law, state code,” Wade explained. “State code says at 3-5-11(b)(2) that the statement of withdrawal must be filed not later than 84 days before the election. Eighty-four days before our election is Jan. 31.”
Candidate withdrawal became a part of this city election cycle on April 11 when 1st Ward candidate James Giuliani announced he was pulling out of the race the day before early voting began.
Two days later, Giuliani filed a notarized statement of withdrawal with Wade’s office.
Of course, by any reasonable measure, it was too late to remove him from the ballot at that point. But as stated above, it had already been too late for about two and a half months.
Giuliani told The Dominion Post he has legitimate reasons for pulling out of the race and his intent was to announce that before voters went to the polls.
He pointed to 2021, when Patrick Hathaway received 900 votes to defeat a write-in candidate on April 27, then announced he was moving out of town on May 13, leaving council to appoint the 1st Ward representative.
Of the five candidates to interview for the vacancy, Joe Abu-Ghannam was appointed by a unanimous vote of council on July 28, 2021.
Both Abu-Ghannam and Giuliani are on the ballot currently before voters.
Wade confirmed that should Giuliani receive the most votes, he’ll have to be sworn in within 20 days after the election is certified or, like in 2021, the seat will be vacated, and council will need to appoint the 1st Ward representative.
Early voting in the city’s 2023 municipal election runs through April 22 at the Historic Train Depot at Hazel Ruby McQuain Park, 185 Garrett Street.
Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays.